Biography of Robert L. Call

CCCMan, Company 1587, Camp SCS-2, Camp Tecumseh, Lafayette, Indiana

Sergeant, Third Marine Division, Fleet Marine Force, WWII

    I graduated from high school in April, 1938. I enlisted in the Civilian Conservation Corps at Indianapolis, Indiana, in January 1939. I served my six month's enlistment at Camp Tecumseh which was located on the west bank of the Wabash River four miles north of Lafayetette, Indiana. The unit number, I believe, was 1587.

     This was a SCS-2 - soil conservation camp. During January and February, we felled white and red oak trees and prepared them for fence posts. We constructed the fence lines in March. The corner and brace posts were oak trunks eleven feet long. They were set 5 1/2 feet in and 5 1/2 feet out. The line posts were wedged oak nine feet long. They were set 4 1/2 feet in. Other projects that spring included planting jack pines and black locust, constructing check dams and making sod waterways.

      A sod waterway is a means to prevent soil erosion. A gully was contoured to form as shallow a "U" as possible. Sod was then laid to allow the water to runoff without further erosion.

     One of our work assignments took us through Battle Ground, Indiana. This is the site of the Battle of Tippecanoe in 1811 where William Henry Harrison defeated Tecumseh's brother, "The Prophet." We rode in 1934 Chevrolet army trucks with the top down in clear weather. We took the same route through town each day. An attractive, red-headed young lady walked to work down the same street each day. We would call out, "Hey Red, what's the color of your hair"? We think she would like this.

     My experience in the CCC's proved beneficial when I enlisted in the Marines at the beginning of World War II.

   Participating in the assault landing on Guam as a member of the Third Marine Division is remembered as a continuum of action that began with climbing down a cargo net early in the morning and manning an outpost that night. Most of us were veterans of Bougainville campaign, from November 1, 1943 to January 14, 1944, and had some idea of what to expect and how we would react.

   H-hour was 0830, July 21,1944. Our unit was composed of a lieutenant, three sergeants and approximately forty men. I was one of the sergeants. We transferred from Higgins' boats to amphibian tractors outside the reef and made our run to the beach. The reef and landing beaches were subjected to intense mortar and artillery fire from Japanese positions that were entrenched in the high cliffs and ridges that dominated the landing area. Casualties ranged from moderate on the right and center to very heavy on the left. The fact that casualties were not much higher was due to careful planning and training. Troops were ashore on their assigned beaches by 0833. Our unit was told during the practice landing at Cape Esperance on Guadalcanal that a creek would be to our right on Guam that could offer some protection in clearing the beach. Thank God it was there.

   We reached our first day objective and dug in. I was told to establish an outpost in front of our line. Three of us advanced to the outpost position at dark.

   Enemy activity that night consisted mostly of probes by small units and harrassing mortar fire. At first light, I phoned that we were coming in. I had been on Guam twenty-one hours. .

   When Ruth Huntzicker retired from teaching in the mid 1950's, she gave me a collection of old LIFE magazines. Dorothy and I took them out of protective storage a year ago to make necessary repairs. One magazine had a picture of ten of us standing in kneedeep mud taken during the Bougainville campaign. The man standing next to me, Andy Glodich, had enlisted from Cleveland and we had been together since boot camp. Dorothy was able to contact him in Cleveland and the ensuing correspondence resulted in a reunion with Andy and his wife. Marge, in Eiko after fifty-one years.

----- Robert L. Call

Robert and Dorothy Call

Dorothy Riehle Call, Y2/C, Bureau of Aeronautics, Washington DC, U.S. Waves, USN, WWII


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